Last Friday I began my sermon for the opening of the new year with a question to students. Pointing to insane violence in our communities and world, I asked, “And you’re holing up here in this secluded place to study theology? What’s with that? The world thinks it’s irrelevant.” My text was John 9:1-5. The first disciples wanted to talk theology. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” They saw the blind man as an object lesson for their theologizing, but Jesus avoided the trap of theoretical theology. “Neither this man nor his parents but that the works of God might be manifest in him.” At your alma mater, studying theology is not an end in itself. Theology for us is a means to bring the works of God into the individual lives of people. It is more urgent in our chaotic nation and world than ever before. “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day. The night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am light for the world.”
Your Seminary has an anticipated fall enrollment of 616 students, including 103 new students in residential and distance ministerial formation programs: 44 residential Master of Divinity students; five Residential Alternate Route students; seven residential deaconess students; nine Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) students; 25 Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) Program students; five Center for Hispanic Studies students; and eight General Pastor Certification (GPC) Program students. You see the need for more residential pastoral students; only 49 this year. Please help raise up the next generation of workers.
Concordia Seminary’s Advanced Studies department also welcomed 27 new students: five Master of Arts students; nine Doctor of Philosophy students; five Doctor of Ministry students; and eight Master of Sacred Theology students.
During the service, five professors were installed in new positions: Dr. Benjamin Haupt as associate provost; Dr. Glenn Nielsen as director of placement, a position he has held since 2017; Dr. David Peter as dean of faculty; Dr. Mark Rockenbach as director of the Doctor of Ministry Program; and Dr. William Schumacher as the Buehner-Duesenberg Professor of Missions. Also, 41 distance education students were recognized and received their assignments of vicarages and internships.
In that opening sermon I said, “When you come across the myriad people in your life who do not know the grace and mercy of God and therefore do not understand that their lives are significant personally with His peace — then you go to them, not as an object to theologize, but as an extension of the love of Jesus for the people for whom He died. Never meet a stranger. Because everyone that you meet is someone for whom Jesus died.”
You have been given a sound theological education. May the Spirit of God bless its use as you bring the works of God and the light of Christ to people through your ministry. “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day. The night is coming when no one can work.”
Dr. Dale A. Meyer, President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis